Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Activist, ex-teachers, state dept. deputy secretary run for school board

Three Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education seats are on the ballot this November and candidates vary on items ranging from the biggest issues facing the district to whether superintendent applications should be open to the public.

Districts 1, 2 and 4 are on the ballot, with all three incumbents running. APS also has a $290 million mill levy, bond package it’s putting before voters on the same ballot.

Election Day for this year’s consolidated election, which means other entities, such as the city, will also have questions, is Nov. 5. The county opened early voting centers on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Candidates for the Board of Education include former teachers, a former accountant, a state department deputy secretary and a local activist.

District 1

In District 1, incumbent Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, a Democrat, was appointed to the board in fall of 2018. She followed Analee Maestas, who stepped down after then-state Auditor Tim Keller uncovered questionable transactions at the charter school she founded.

Montoya-Cordova currently works at the Department of Workforce Solutions as a deputy secretary and has a background in social work. She was raised in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

Three of her grandchildren attend APS schools.

Madelyn Jones, who did not respond to the Journal’s questionnaire, is running against Montoya-Cordova. In an APS question-and-answer form, Jones said she went to APS schools and her kids did, too. She also said that she has “44 years of business ownership experience.” Jones has participated in the South Area Advisory Council, Carrie Tingley Hospital Parent Council and the South Valley Chamber of Commerce, according to the APS answers.

District 2

In District 2, incumbent Peggy Muller-Aragón, a Republican and native of Grants, has been on the board since 2015 and has worked on political campaigns since the ’80s. She is a retired public school teacher with 26 years of classroom experience.

Her opponent, Laurie Harris, a Democrat from Texas, also has classroom experience as a former teacher from 1990 to 2018 and was an accountant before going into teaching. Two of her children attended APS and two of her three grandchildren are enrolled in district schools.

District 4

The District 4 race originally brought in three hopefuls, but Laura Carlson told the Journal that she is not actively running for the board.

That leaves Barbara Petersen, a Democrat who has been on the board since 2015, and Verland Coker, a registered independent who leans Democrat.

Petersen was a teacher from 1974 to 2012. She says she is from Englewood, New Jersey; Birmingham, Alabama; and Arlington Heights, Illinois.

She is the mother of one daughter who attended district schools.

Coker has a brother with special needs who attends APS. His résumé includes “activist” and “various minimum wage jobs.”

He was born in Missouri and raised in Albuquerque for the past 16 years.

Superintendent applications

Superintendent Raquel Reedy announced she would be retiring and the current Board of Education said it’s aiming to get her replacement on board by July.

According to a Journal questionnaire, candidates diverge on whether applications for her replacement should be open to the public.

Montoya-Cordova, the incumbent running for District 1, thinks superintendent applications should not be released until “fully vetted.”

“Once a list of finalists is determined, I believe it is helpful for the public to know who is under consideration,” she said in a Journal questionnaire.

In District 2, Muller-Aragón thinks the opposite. When asked if the applications should be public, she said, “absolutely.”

Harris, also running for District 2, had a mixed response.

“I would support public applications if they are within legal boundaries and if it doesn’t deter some great candidates from applying,” she said.

In District 4, there’s another split. Verland Coker thought the applications should “absolutely” be public, whereas Barbara Petersen said public applications could discourage people from applying.

Issues facing APS

Finances, teacher vacancies and student achievement — these are some of the biggest issues candidates say APS is facing.

Montoya-Cordova said the biggest issues facing the district right now are academic gaps and low student performance. She said she supports targeted instruction and programs, including community schools and extended days.

Muller-Aragón thinks a big issue is that “adult self-interests” are put above students, saying kids should be the priority.

Harris noted the teacher vacancies in the state and district. She wants to focus on teacher retention.

Coker thinks the district needs to address what he called budget mismanagement and reevaluate where money is going.

Petersen said respect for teachers should be restored and there needs to be a bigger focus on instruction that is developmentally appropriate and inspiring for kids.

In an APS-commissioned poll done in July, low teacher salaries was the top issue in APS chosen by surveyors.

Top-heavy administration, the teacher shortage and funding not making it to the classroom were the other popular issues, respectively.

Union endorsements

After an interview process and a vote from its Federation Representative Council, the union Albuquerque Teachers Federation has made its endorsements.

Union support has a track record of wins. The majority of the current board are union-backed candidates, including president David Peercy.

ATF President Ellen Bernstein told the Journal that each endorsed candidate got $5,000, and the union will phone bank and canvass for its picks.

For District 1, Montoya-Cordova got the endorsement. Bernstein said Montoya-Cordova is involved in her community and listens to constituents.

For District 2, the union pledged support for Harris, who was a treasurer for her union. Bernstein said in an email that Harris was chosen because she is familiar with issues facing the district and said her experience in accounting will be an asset to the budget process.

Petersen is the endorsed candidate for District 4. The union cited her education knowledge and called her a “true unionist” familiar with labor issues.

Jones, from District 1, and Muller-Aragón from District 2 did not seek endorsements, according to the organization.


APS School Board Candidates

DISTRICT 1

Madelyn Jones

Did not respond to Journal questionnaire.


Yolanda Montoya-Cordova

AGE: 61

EDUCATION: Master of Social Work, University of Texas, May 1996

OCCUPATION: State Administrator – NM Department of Workforce Solutions – July 2016 to present, promoted from Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Administrator to appointment as Deputy Secretary January 2019.

Director of School Health – NM Department of Health – March 2005 – July 2016

Other employers – Casey Family Programs, Texas Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities, UTEP – Disabled Student Services Director

FAMILY: Spouse – Phillip Cordova (Deceased) – Special Ed Teacher at Highland HS 20+ years.

Daughter – Analise Herrera, attended public school in El Paso and Austin, Texas

Step Children, Jennifer, Phillip and Jacqueline – graduates of APS schools

Grandchildren all enrolled in public school – 2 in Portland, OR and 3 attending APS schools

POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: APS Board, appointed Fall 2018

POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat

BORN/RAISED: Albuquerque, NM – raised in South Valley

MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Doubled number of school based health centers while employed at the NM Department of Health

MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Supported spouse through cancer diagnosis

Q: What’s the biggest issue APS faces? How would you address it?

A: Academic gaps and low student performance. Strategies I support, focused policy and budget for targeted instruction and programming, including, STEM, community schools, extended day, dual enrollment & work-based learning, and social/emotional support.

Q: In your opinion, what is the primary role of a school board member?

A: The primary role of a school board member is to represent the vision and core values of the community.

Q: How would you evaluate the current school board’s performance?

A: The Board works well together, communication is open and respectful, discussions focus on student performance and policy and strategies needed to support superintendent initiatives. Board diversity and lived experiences enhance and inform perspective.

Q: What experience do you have overseeing a budget?

A: 25+ years as a public administrator, includes oversight of state/federal budgets. Currently manage $50 million in “pass through” funds to workforce development boards. Direct experience in fiscal policy, monitoring and reporting, and program audit.

Q: Do you think superintendent applications should be public?

A: Applications of interest should not be released until fully vetted. Once a list of finalists is determined, I believe it is helpful for the public to know who is under consideration.

Q: How would you evaluate APS as a whole?

A: High marks for the four zones, high marks for community schools, Bilingual Seal Program and Early College HS. APS needs to enhance academic rigor to assure students are prepared and ready for career, college.

Q: What is your stance on charter schools?

A: The perception and narrative that it is “us versus them” is confusing. I believe the intention IS partnership to enhance options for students. Families need assurance ALL public funded schools can meet all student needs.

Q: Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, or any misdemeanor or felony?

A: No.


DISTRICT 2

Laurie Harris

AGE: 59

EDUCATION: Teacher Certification: Tarleton State University 1990-92

Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting: Baylor University 1978-1982

OCCUPATION: Retired since Dec 2018; Teacher 1990-2018; Accountant 1982-1990

FAMILY: Roger Harris, deceased

2 children (both attended APS schools)

3 grandchildren (2 attend APS schools)

POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: None

POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat

BORN/RAISED: Texas

MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Technology Coordinator at Jefferson Middle School

MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Traveled to China and the Arctic

Q: What’s the biggest issue APS faces? How would you address it?

A: The teacher exodus has left classrooms without a consistent stable presence. Students need high quality instructors to be successful. I will make retaining and supporting educators a priority.

Q: In your opinion, what is the primary role of a school board member?

A: Each member is part of a team who works to improve education of all students.

Q: How would you evaluate the current school board’s performance?

A: Overall, they have been moving in the right direction, despite problems from Federal and State mandates and budget cuts. Decisions made in the next few years will be critical to the success of our children.

Q: What experience do you have overseeing a budget?

A: I served as Treasurer of ATF for a year, and I have served on the Instructional Council at Jefferson Middle School for the past 12 years.

Q: Do you think superintendent applications should be public?

A: I would support public applications if they are within legal boundaries and if it doesn’t deter some great candidates from applying.

Q: How would you evaluate APS as a whole?

A: The inadequate funding of the past decade and over-testing required by the state and federal governments have damaged our schools. There is room for improvement.

Q: What is your stance on charter schools?

A: I support the charter schools that are currently successful, but not adding to the number of charters. We cannot afford to take any more money from the public-school budget to pay for charter schools.

Q: Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, or any misdemeanor or felony?

A: No, but I have had parking and speeding tickets in the past.


Peggy Lee Muller-Aragón

AGE: 61

EDUCATION: Master of Arts in Education Administration (University of New Mexico, 1990); Bachelor of Science in Education, (University of New Mexico, 1980); High School Diploma, (West Mesa High School, 1976)

OCCUPATION: Retired Public School Teacher, 26 years

FAMILY: Robert J. Aragón, 3 daughters

POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: Albuquerque Public School’s Board Member (2015 to present), involved in local, state and national political campaigns (1980-present)

POLITICAL PARTY: Republican

BORN/RAISED: Grants and Albuquerque, NM

MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Spending my entire career with the Albuquerque Public Schools, being able to use my bilingualism in the classroom, and watching how my teaching positively affected hundreds of children’s learning experience.

MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: My family is my greatest personal achievement: an unbelievably supportive husband of 37 years, who always has my back, being blessed with three brilliant, kind, giving daughters, and gifted with parents who raised a daughter who stays true to her upbringing.

Q: What’s the biggest issue APS faces? How would you address it?

A: Adult self-interests are placed above those of students and many of our students aren’t graduating or reading and doing math at grade level. Prioritize student’s interests over adults by doing what benefits the children.

Q: In your opinion, what is the primary role of a school board member?

A: My primary role is to advocate for student needs and interests above all else, to protect the parent’s role in their child’s education and to fight for true accountability and transparency in APS.

Q: How would you evaluate the current school board’s performance?

A: From the perspective of individual board members they conduct themselves in good faith, though some don’t acknowledge systemic failures such as, poor graduation rates, low academic proficiency rates and lack of public trust.

Q: What experience do you have overseeing a budget?

A: As the chair of the board’s finance committee, I have many years of experience watching the evolution of the district’s budget from beginning to end. I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and accountability.

Q: Do you think superintendent applications should be public?

A: Absolutely.

Q: How would you evaluate APS as a whole?

A: APS students are wonderful, special and full of promise. Sadly, adults often get in the way of that promise. Student success is my priority; APS needs to be better at unlocking that potential for success.

Q: What is your stance on charter schools?

A: I wholeheartedly support good charter schools. Charter schools empower parents with ‘CHOICE’ so they determine what’s best for their child. Parents should choose the school that will satisfy their child’s needs, interests and curiosity.

Q: Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, or any misdemeanor or felony?

A: No


DISTRICT 4

Barbara E. Petersen

AGE: 67

EDUCATION: MA, UNM, 1988; BS, UNM, 1974

OCCUPATION: Retired teacher

APS teacher, 1977 – 2012

Preschool teacher, 1974-76

FAMILY: 1 daughter who attended Valle Vista Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School and Albuquerque High School

POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: APS Board Member, 2015 -present

POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat

BORN/RAISED: Englewood, NJ; Birmingham, AL; Arlington Heights,IL

MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Teaching for APS for 35 years, as a K-5 classroom teacher, an Instructional and Reading

Coach and a Reading Recovery teacher

MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Being the mother of a wonderful daughter

Q: What’s the biggest issue APS faces? How would you address it?

A: We must concentrate on improving teaching and learning conditions in our schools by restoring respect for teachers and focusing on instruction that inspires such as ethnic studies and developmentally appropriate practices for young children.

Q: In your opinion, what is the primary role of a school board member?

A: The board is responsible for hiring the superintendent, approving the budget and making policy. Each of these areas entails a great deal of time and work. We are a team, relying on each other’s insights.

Q: How would you evaluate the current school board’s performance?

A: With vastly different backgrounds and experiences, the seven members of the board are all deeply committed to students and the district. We work with the superintendent to prioritize staying focused on the Academic Master Plan.

Q: What experience do you have overseeing a budget?

A: I have now been through four budget processes, three with cuts, including one with $35+million reclaimed by the state midyear. Community input and maintaining a focus on student needs has been the priority.

Q: Do you think superintendent applications should be public?

A: That could greatly discourage qualified applicants. Community voice for district priorities, qualities of a superintendent and vetting of finalists is essential. However, the superintendent is the employee of the board, which carries the responsibility.

Q: How would you evaluate APS as a whole?

A: APS has many strengths: Improved graduation rates, including with the bilingual seal; expanded art and music; the Community School Partnership. Challenges include needing further progress with high suspension rates and providing adequate student supports.

Q: What is your stance on charter schools?

A: Some fulfill their mission well. Overall, they cost more with similar or worse outcomes, have higher administrative overhead, increase segregation, absorb capital dollars with no long-range plan, and are unable to provide specialized services.

Q: Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, or any misdemeanor or felony?

A: No.


Verland O Coker

Age: 26

EDUCATION: None

OCCUPATION: Activist/Various minimum wage jobs

FAMILY: Younger special needs brother who attends APS

POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: Activist

POLITICAL PARTY: Registered independent, typically Democrat

BORN/RAISED: Born in Missouri; raised in Albuquerque for the last 16 years

MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: caught and stopped 3 instances of identity theft while working in a call center

MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: None

Q: What’s the biggest issue APS faces? How would you address it?

A: The most current issue is budget mismanagement which requires a thorough reevaluation of the pipeline of funds. Funds are either misused or syphoned in ways or places they shouldn’t be.

Q: In your opinion, what is the primary role of a school board member?

A: In my opinion, the role should be one of an overseer. Someone who is not only on the cutting edge of education but also takes personal responsibility for the failures of the district.

Q: How would you evaluate the current school board’s performance?

A: Incredibly poor. If I had to rank it out of, say 50, I would rank it number 49th.

Q: What experience do you have overseeing a budget?

A: No one coming into this race will ever have experience balancing a multimillion dollar budget, however I do have years of experience in manipulating large budgets and macroeconomics on a digital front.

Q: Do you think superintendent applications should be public?

A: Absolutely.

Q: How would you evaluate APS as a whole?

A: Out of the broken American education system, it’s still one of the worst. However, my experience at APS tells me that we have the pieces available to succeed.

Q: What is your stance on charter schools?

A: They should fill a need APS doesn’t meet and be utilized as proving grounds for innovative and experimental systems but the goal should be to reabsorb the assets and praxis into APS proper.

Q: Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

A: I’ve never made enough money to become delinquent on taxes or own property.

Q: Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, or any misdemeanor or felony?

A: No.

AlertMe

Advertisement

TOP |